Our family of seven currently lives in a 1100 square foot ranch home with two bedrooms and one bathroom. We do have additional living space in the basement, currently at about 350 sq. ft. For the next few days, the kids and I will be living in our living room (about 250 sq. ft.) while my husband claims the kitchen space (thereby blocking off access to the basement) to install new floor tiles. So far, so good.
There was some preparation to do, as I had to decide what I couldn’t live without from those two major areas of the house. Meal plans I made took into account the absence of a stove and dishwasher (which meant cooking ahead yesterday- hurray for pancakes and baked oatmeal!) Laundry needed to be finished (a rare occurrence around here), and all the necessary home-school materials were transported upstairs. I intentionally left all candy and other treats out of reach in the highest kitchen cupboard (I miss my candy!)
We are nearly through the first day, and I have to say, it’s been a success. I have read more books to the children (a personal goal of mine for this year), we got through a fair amount of coursework, the kids got along 90% of the time (I think they were hungry during the meltdown), and I am actually writing during the day, in the same room with them.
It’s kind of like our recent summer vacations, where we have lived together in a smaller home with more shared space and time. Of course, with our recent sub-zero temperatures and gusting snow, playing outside isn’t an option here at home, but the kids’ energy levels have been manageable. Right now, my seven year old is shoveling the walkway between the front door and the breezeway; that should help.
In my mind, I am pretending that we are living like pioneers, in their one-room cabins, or like tiny house owners who dwell in 300-400 sq. ft. homes. We do exceed that, when you factor in our bedrooms and bathroom, which we can still access but only use for their indicated purposes. Part of me thinks that this is really all we need. I like being together all day, combining our living and dining space, sharing life together.
I know, we were sharing life together before today; we do live in the same house after all. But, I find that I am often preoccupied in the kitchen, while the rest of my family is scattered about in the basement, bedrooms, or living room. Maybe, the change that I appreciate is my own availability to my family. I can’t get away with lazing about, smartphone in hand, perusing Facebook; every time I tried today, a book was shoved in my face with the corresponding, “Read me this book, Mama.” Honestly, the joy of snuggling and reading stories to my girls far outweighs the time I spend reading everyone’s FB posts. Also, now that the meals are accounted for, I have an even more free time to engage with them, too. Point for meal planning.
It’s just day one; we could all be losing our minds by Monday, but I’d like to think that we are better than that- more adaptable, more loving and forgiving, more resourceful. As much as I look forward to my new floors (12 years coming), I think I will have a twinge of sadness when we leave our temporary tiny house living arrangement.